Woodland Areas in South West England
The South West region includes the counties of Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, and possesses an average tree canopy cover of 15.1%. From this figure, Devon has the largest tree cover at 19% and Bristol has the smallest at 8.7%. The region’s average only misses the national average tree canopy cover of 16% by a mere 0.9%, and South West England holds the highest population of residents living in rural areas.
Although South West England is predominantly rural, wooded areas and forests aren’t frequently situated in countryside spaces due to coastal locations and high land elevation. Efforts from local councils have aimed to increase the number of trees in the region, with The South West Forest scheme planting 3,000 hectares of new woodland between 1997 and 2005. Likewise, South West Water announced in 2019 that they would plant at least 100,000 trees by the year 2030 before increasing the figure to 250,000 after finding the initiative to be more practical and straightforward than first anticipated.
The Effect of Trees on Planning
With an estimated 1.3 billion trees across England, it should come as no surprise to learn that trees are a common obstacle during a vast number of planning projects. Trees often appear on the sites of proposed developments alongside various forms of vegetation – such as problematic ivy and Japanese knotweed, for example – and can act as stumbling blocks. Additionally, further issues will arise if individual trees are protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), or if groups of trees are placed in a listed conservation area.
Both Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and conservation areas are similar in the sense that disregarding either protection without consent from a licensed arboriculturist will lead to penalties in the form of fines or prison sentences. The wilful damaging of trees – as well as tree felling, uprooting or lopping – could also put the future of the development in danger. Not only could it prolong the planning process as a whole, but also damage planning applications or even lead to a complete breakdown of the project.
Arboricultural Consultants in South West England
A trusted and reliable provider of arboricultural and ecological surveys, Arbtech has serviced the length and breadth of the country, helped by our company structure that plants highly skilled arboricultural consultants throughout the United Kingdom. By operating in this way, we can guarantee tree surveys and other arboricultural services to clients regardless of location, and we are happy to consider services outside of the UK upon request.
As well as possessing the suitable qualifications, accreditations and great experience in relevant roles and projects, our arboricultural surveyors are fully equipped with personality traits that make them even more effective. For instance, each arboriculturist has communication skills, a drive to produce a professional service to the highest possible standards, and a strong work ethic. While our arboricultural surveyors earned bachelor’s or master’s degrees in relevant fields, leading with the right attitude and personal skills makes us unique from other service providers.
Part of the reasoning behind our arboriculturists holding such a wealth of information is that some previously worked as expert tree surgeons and arborists carrying out emergency tree service or tree surgery services. Through operating as an arborist, tree surgeon and arboriculturist, our team have experienced various areas of tree planting, tree removal, tree emergencies, hedge trimming, stump removal, general tree care, grounds maintenance and the ability to safely fell trees, giving them a comprehensive understanding of tree work, tree surgery requirements, tree health and the numerous types of tree.
One such example of our expert tree consultants is Principle Arboriculturist and Employee Development Lead, Jon Hartley. Based in Cornwall, Jon oversees many of the tree surveys and other arboricultural assessments in the South West and has been with Arbtech since 2014.
20+ years ago, the normal route into the arboriculture industry was to get some NPTC tickets and start cutting trees, particularly in Cornwall, as local colleges weren’t integrating arboriculture into academic courses.
As one of the few who completed the RFS certificate in arboriculture after only a year or so in the business, it was clear why we were cutting trees in the area and undertook some of the operations we were employed for. Over the course of my career, I’ve continued to study, culminating in the attainment of an honour’s degree in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry in 2018.
After previously living in South East England and Australia, it’s been great to recently move back to the county and region of my childhood. My work for clients involves varying stages in the planning system, with more high value category trees and numerous potential arboricultural constraints in the South West compared to other regions.
It’s exciting to be able to advise so many clients on how they may incorporate trees into their development plans and assist on working towards a successful planning application. Recently, storm Eunice felled an iconic tree in Bude and, unfortunately, it was fairly obvious that the tree was at the end of its useful life. Luckily, however, the storm felled the tree with precision, and damage to the specific and surrounding areas was minimal.
Tree surveys generally fall into the two categories of a BS5837 tree survey and a risk assessment. Risk assessments on trees are part of a land keeper’s legal duty to organise, and while an arboricultural consultant does not have a crystal ball and therefore cannot predict tree failure, we can identify trees that are at an increased risk of failure before advising on how best to manage the risk of harm and property damage represented at an acceptable level.Jon Hartley, Principle Arboriculturist and Employee Development Lead
South West England Tree Assessments
All of our tree assessments are conducted in a consistent way to guarantee accurate and credible insights that will benefit planning applications. We also ensure that our arboriculturists operate within best practice guidelines from corresponding bodies such as the Arboricultural Association to provide tree surveys that are done properly and to a certain standard.
From the arboricultural services we provide, the BS5837 tree survey – an assessment designed to act as tree care services and develop appropriate courses of action for each tree with minimal disruption – is the most common. Once a BS5837 tree survey is booked, an arboricultural consultant will attend the development site on the day of the booking and inspect all trees present before giving each tree a grading set by condition and value.
Using a predetermined concept known as ‘the mitigation hierarchy‘, suitable next steps for each tree can be determined between retaining the trees, relocating the trees elsewhere or destroying them. Retention will always stand as the preferable outcome. If, however, the trees are an obstacle to the development, they will need to be moved elsewhere on-site or off-site. Then, as an absolute last resort, if trees are in poor condition or pose a danger to people in the vicinity, they will be destroyed and compensated through the planting of new trees.
Tree Reports for Planning
Upon completion of all our arboricultural and ecological surveys, we will create a report that explains the assessment, outcomes from the survey and recommendations from the consultant. It is the same with tree surveys, and within a few short days of the assessment, the arboricultural surveyor in charge of the survey will assemble a tree report with the necessary information and insights included.
A tree survey report will not only benefit the developer with insights that could enhance the project and avoid potentially unforeseen issues but also play a role in gaining planning consent. Tree reports are commonly passed on to the local planning authority as tangible, reliable evidence that will assist your local planning officer in making a decision on granting or denying planning conditions.
Speak to our South West Arboriculture Team
In any proposed development project in South West England, a tree survey or other form of arboricultural assessment would be needed if trees are present. Considering our Trustpilot and Google reviews that prove our worth as a dependable arboricultural consultancy capable of undertaking professional tree surveys and producing comprehensive tree reports, Arbtech is the best option for tree assessments.
By getting in touch with us directly, we can offer you a free quote that is accurate to the specifications of your site and the purpose of your project. To do this, call us directly, fill out our quote form or visit the contact section of our website. We will then be able to send your no-obligation quote to you, and if you are happy to move forward, return the form to us and we will work with you to arrange a good time to visit your site and conduct a tree survey.
Between the details of your project and the expertise of our arboriculturists, we can help you gauge the appropriate next steps for every tree on your development site and support your application for planning permission.